And just like that, the Dakar Rally is done and dusted for another year. Sure, Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders didn’t secure the win or a podium this time around, but every stage, and every Dakar completed rewards all riders with invaluable experience that you just can’t find anywhere else. With just under a month to prepare for this year’s event after multiple surgeries in 2023, Chucky brought himself home in a solid eighth place, and takes away plenty of positives from the 46th edition of the world’s toughest rally-raid.
A badly broken femur in May 2023 was not on Sanders’ to-do list last year as it not only ruled him out of FIM World Rally-Raid Championship contention, but it put a big question mark over his participation at Dakar 2024. After undergoing his final surgery in November, his decision to head to Saudi Arabia for his fourth go at the Dakar was made, and then it was a case of clocking up as many miles as possible to get comfy on his RX 450F.
Reminding everyone of what he does best on day one – that’s going blazing fast on a dirt bike through the desert – Chucky kicked things off nicely by posting the second-fastest time on the prologue. From there, consistent results were the name of the game before he really excelled at the end of week one to place fourth on two stages and move up to seventh overall.
The strong results for Chucky continued into week two after the event’s rest day. Sixth on stage seven, stage nine then proved to be a real tough one for plenty of competitors, including Sanders. After a couple of close calls, Daniel eased his pace to complete the special safe and sound but would lose a little time on the leaders. Bouncing back to collect his third top-four finish on stage 10 was another impressive result, and by bringing himself and his RX 450F safely home on the final two stages to complete the Dakar, the Aussie secured eighth overall in the final standings.
Daniel Sanders: "Coming in I didn’t have much preparation at all. I broke my femur really badly eight months ago and I only had December on the bike to prepare, so all I could really do was spend as much time on the bike as possible. But we were able to get the bike good and here we are at the finish line. My last surgery was only three months ago, and the bone still isn’t fully healed. I didn’t expect to be here back in November so I’m really happy to finish another Dakar. It’s certainly been a challenge this year and I’ve missed a lot of racing during the last two years, so my goal now is to stay healthy, then return bigger and better next year. I’ll be doing everything I can to make that happen.”
Andreas Hölzl – Rally Team Manager: "It was a really big challenge for Daniel to even line-up at this year’s Dakar and I have a lot of respect for him. He’s basically had a year out of racing with different injuries which meant that he had lot of time off the bike. He’s just come back from a really difficult injury with his femur break, so to finish the Dakar after very little preparation shows how strong he is, mentally and physically.”
Provisional Results: Dakar Rally 2024, stage 12
1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 1:48:40
2. Toby Price (KTM) 1:49:40
3. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:49:54
12. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:54:18
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 12)
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 51:30:08
2. Ross Branch (Hero) 51:41:01
3. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 51:42:33
8. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 52:44:40